We’re down to two days until the 59th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on FOX.
While a driver in the No. 2 car has never won the Great American Race, we’ve had 37 different drivers finish the race in second place. While history usually forgets the runner-up, we’re going to pay tribute to the drivers who finished second the most in NASCAR’s biggest race.
Check out the drivers who finished second most often in the Daytona 500:
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Richard Petty, 2 (1962, 1976)
Yes, The King came up one spot short of winning nine Daytona 500s. It was Fireball Roberts who bested Petty in 1962. In 1976, David Pearson beat Petty as the two drivers crashed coming to the checkered flag and Pearson crept across the line as Petty stalled out just short.
Fred Lorenzen, 2 (1963, 1967)
The 1965 Daytona 500 champion came up just short before and after his victory in the Great American Race. In 1963, it was Tiny Lund’s miraculous upset by staying out on the same set of tires the entire race and stretching his fuel while everyone else dropped in to the pits late. Andretti beat Lorenzen under the caution in 1967.
Charlie Glotzbach, 2 (1969, 1972)
Glotzbach is our first driver on the runner-up list who never eventually won a Daytona 500. LeeRoy Yarbrough beat him in 1969 at the start of the aero wars. In 1972, A.J. Foyt won the race in convincing fashion as Glotzbach finished a very distant second.
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Benny Parsons, 2 (1977, 1987)
The 1975 Daytona 500 champion won the big one before coming up short, unlike most drivers on this list. In 1977, Yarborough and Parsons were both angling to be the second driver to win multiple 500s. Late in his NASCAR career, Parsons once again found himself behind a driver who was winning their second Daytona 500 as Bill Elliott won.
Kevin Harvick, 2 (2009, 2015)
Similar to Parsons, Harvick won his Daytona 500 before finishing just short two other times. In 2009, Kenseth beat Harvick due to the race being shortened by rain. Two years ago, Harvick finished second to Joey Logano as the race ended under caution. The good news for Harvick is that he should be among the favorites to win on Sunday.
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Bobby Allison, 3 (1975, 1980, 1981)
To match his three second-place finishes, Allison also won the race three times between 1978 and 1988. Along with Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough, Allison was the only other driver with three Daytona 500 wins, until Dale Jarrett won his third in 2000.
Kurt Busch, 3 (2003, 2005, 2008)
Only two drivers on this list finished second multiple times and never won the Daytona 500. Busch hopes to erase his name from the list this Sunday. In spite of his consistency, Busch has never won a restrictor-plate race in his career. He came close three times in the Great American Race, falling to Michael Waltrip, Jeff Gordon, and Ryan Newman.
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Cale Yarborough, 4 (1966, 1974, 1978, 1982)
History could have been rewritten if the results of the 1966 and 1974 Daytona 500s went in Yarborough’s favor instead of Richard Petty’s. Yarborough still holds the record for second-most Daytona 500 victories with four. The other two times Yarborough finished second were both to Bobby Allison.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., 4 (2001, 2010, 2012, 2013)
There’s a reason the name Earnhardt is synonymous with Daytona International Speedway. Among the three wins between the father and son, they’ve both finished second more than any other drivers. None of Dale Jr.’s second-place finishes stand out more than the 2001 race as his father lost his life as he pushed teammate Michael Waltrip to the victory.
After winning his first Great American Race in 2004, Earnhardt finished second three times before breaking through with his second victory in 2014. He’ll be a favorite to win his third on Sunday.
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Dale Earnhardt, 5 (1984, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1999)
The collection of heartbreaking near misses by Earnhardt in the Great American Race is what made his victory in 1998 so sweet. Having the most second-place finishes in the race doesn’t fully encompass all of the near misses Earnhardt had. It’s no fluke that The Intimidator was feared on restrictor-plate tracks as he was upfront in almost every race he entered at Daytona or Talladega.